Houston water bills may go up as city tries to avoid billions in fines

The city has more than 6,000 miles of sewers with many cracked and clogged sewer lines.

"Every time it floods, sewer waste water goes into yards, streets, and our drinking water. It's something that must be taken care of and it must continually be taken care of," said Brenda Stardig, Houston City Council member for District A. "It accumulates over time and it becomes a much bigger issue than it should have been."

One problem the city is dealing with is antiquated sanitary sewage manhole covers.

"As the water in the sewer line fills up with rain water or flood water that pressure increases and it throws the cover off and allows sewage into the street," said city council member Mike Knox, Position-at-Large 1.

"I've been working in this industry, specifically the manhole cover industry, for 13 years," said Eric Dupre, president of Supercover.

Dupre is in talks with public works officials about manhole covers he's designed with vent holes.

"We designed a manhole system that's leak free water tight and corrosion resistant," Dupre said. "Year-to-date, we have 3,500 units throughout eight cities nationwide."

"We have quite a large number of fines right now that we're working with the EPA trying to resolve," Knox said.

The city must do much more than replace manhole covers to get the EPA of its back.

In a proposed plan, the city would spend $2 billion over the next 15 years to bring its sewer system into compliance.

"Which is way less than we actually owe in fines to the EPA," said Knox.

Houstonians should prepare themselves for higher water bills next year.

That's something council members Stardig and Knox don't want to see happen.